Words cannot express how tasty these vegetarian nachos are. They’re great on their own but the creamy cilantro lime drizzle puts them over the top!
Why you’ll love it: This recipe can be a satisfying dinner or a hearty snack, with less than 350 calories per serving.
How long it takes: 35 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: skillet, sheet pan, blender
I feel like if you lived a life where you ate vegetarian nachos every day, you’d be living a pretty good life, especially if the nachos were accompanied by a spicy Paloma or an orange mojito. Not the most low-calorie diet in the world, but it sure would be tasty!
On Sunday, we had to try out a new Mexican restaurant that my in-laws said was better than my current favorite (local) Mexican place. They have a live band on Sundays so we took the kids and gave it a try. It was fun but I still like mine better.
On Monday, I realized I had everything I needed to make tacos, so it was tacos for dinner, and then tonight, we ate the leftovers, so we’ve had Mexican food three days in a row now. And I’m still looking at these loaded nachos at 9 pm and craving them.
About These Vegetarian Nachos
I really love this meatless nachos recipe. You don’t miss the meat at all because these vegetarian nachos are topped with healthy black beans, and sautéed peppers and onions which lend fajita-style flair. I season the beans and peppers with a healthy dose of my homemade taco seasoning, but you could also use store-bought if you want.
Top all that with lots of shredded cheese. Even though there’s plenty of other stuff going on with peppers, onions, and beans, you shouldn’t skimp on the cheese. That should be my mantra: Never skimp on cheese. Just kidding (sorta).
And then there’s an extra boost of flavor from the creamy cilantro lime drizzle which takes just a couple of minutes to make in the blender. The fresh flavors of the lime and cilantro brighten up the nachos and keep them from becoming too rich.
By the way, if you have a bit of the sauce left over, it makes for a phenomenal salad dressing the next day.
This is an easy recipe. I’ll get you started and throw in a little extra info. Look for the printable recipe card below for complete recipe information, like measurements, instructions, and nutrition information.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Tortilla Chips: Chips are the foundation of nachos. Choose your favorite brand. Most tortilla chips are gluten-free but if that’s a concern, be sure to check the label.
- Cheese: To keep things easy, buy a bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese which may contain cheddar, colby, Monterey jack, mozzarella, or other types of cheese, depending on which brand you buy. (P.S. If you’re a fan of Taco Bell, they use a mixture of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and mozzarella.)
- Bell Peppers: Buy a couple of peppers; any color will work. I like to use two different colors because it looks prettier.
- Red Onion: If you happen to have a different type of sweet onion in your pantry, feel free to use it.
- Black Beans: Look for low/no sodium canned black beans. Rinse the beans to remove the sludgy stuff and drain them well.
- Taco Seasoning: Use your favorite brand. By the way, it’s easy to make your own taco seasoning and it won’t contain artificial ingredients, preservatives, or nearly as much sodium as commercial brands.
- Sour Cream and Greek Yogurt: For the sauce, a combination of sour cream and yogurt keeps this recipe a bit healthier. Choose reduced fat if you want.
- Lime: Fresh lime juice and finely grated lime zest lend so much fresh tangy flavor to the sauce.
- Cilantro: There’s really no substitute for fresh cilantro. It’s actually quite good for you, too, with lots of antioxidants and vitamins. Add a handful of chopped cilantro to the sauce and throw another handful on top of the nachos.
- Salt, Honey, Garlic Powder: Just a few simple seasonings are needed for the sauce.
- Optional Toppings: Fresh chopped tomato, sliced avocado, green onions, salsa (or whatever your heart desires).
How To Make This Recipe
These are baked nachos, that is, the toppings and shredded cheese are arranged on the chips and then baked in the oven until toasty and melty. The creamy cilantro lime sauce is drizzled on after the nachos are baked, along with any other desired fresh toppings.
Begin by chopping the onions and peppers. Although they are often cut into long strips for fajitas, it’s better if the onions and peppers are coarsely chopped into bite-sized pieces for nachos.
Sauté the onions and peppers in a large skillet with a bit of oil until they are softened. Add the drained black beans and taco seasoning, stirring and cooking until the beans are warmed up.
Lightly spray one or two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Arrange the chips in an even layer in the pan and top with half the shredded cheese.
Arrange the bean/pepper/onion mixture on top, then another layer of shredded cheese.
Pop the pan into a preheated oven to bake. It won’t take long, less than 20 minutes.
While the nachos are baking, prepare the sauce. Simply add all the ingredients to a small blender or food processor and blend until the cilantro is finely chopped.
Serve the nachos with any toppings you like and a drizzle of the creamy cilantro lime sauce.
If you’re having a southwestern-style party, take a look at the recipes below. You don’t want to miss my refried bean dip. It’s made with refried beans and cream cheese, and it’s dangerously good!
Delicious Nacho Toppings
If you asked me what toppings are good on nachos, I could probably give you a 20 minute speech on the topic. There are so many options and really no wrong answers. Here are some ideas:
- Meat: Adding meat to nachos makes them more hearty and filling. Try turkey taco meat, slow cooker pork taco meat, Instant Pot carnitas, or slow cooker salsa chicken.
- Beans: We love adding either Instant Pot pinto beans or Crockpot refried beans to nachos to add more protein while still keeping them vegetarian or vegan.
- Cold Toppings: This is where things really get fun. Once the nachos come out of the oven, add sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeño pepper slices, olives, pickled red onions, chopped avocado, and more!
- Finishing Touches: A squeeze of lime juice adds freshness and a sprinkle of your favorite hot sauce will add some heat.
The chips are the base, so begin with those. Next, add a layer of cheese, then the desired cooked toppings. Add another layer of cheese. Bake the nachos, and then add fresh toppings.
Make It Your Own
- Switch up the sauce: Instead of the creamy sauce (or in addition to it), top the nachos with homemade salsa verde–so delicious! Pico de gallo (a fresh salsa) or restaurant style salsa are good choices, too. Lately we’ve been loving this chipotle salsa.
- Make them extra cheesy: Want to kick these up a notch? Try them with homemade nacho cheese sauce from Fifteen Spatulas.
- Make it a bowl: Put a scoop of cilantro lime rice in a shallow bowl, add the beans/peppers/onions, and top with a drizzle of the dressing and any fresh toppings you like.
- Omit the chips: Try cauliflower nachos! Seriously, you won’t even miss the tortilla chips.
- Make it vegan: Choose your favorite vegan cheese to make these nachos vegan.
- Rather have meat? Try my beef nachos or BBQ chicken nachos.
Like most nacho recipes, these are best eaten right away. If you want to get a jump on making them, cook the onion/pepper/bean mixture ahead of time. Let it cool slightly before refrigerating for up to a couple of days. Warm it up a bit before using it to top the nachos. The sauce can be made ahead too.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this nachos recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #20. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ large red onion, chopped
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained (reduced sodium, if possible)
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 bag tortilla chips (about a 10 oz. bag)
- 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
- Optional garnishes: cilantro, avocado, tomato, salsa, green onions
Cilantro Lime Drizzle:
- ½ cup sour cream (reduced fat is okay)
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (reduced fat is okay)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon lime juice (zest lime before juicing!)
- ½ cup tightly packed torn cilantro leaves and stems
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon honey
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add peppers and onions and sauté until softened. Add black beans and taco seasoning; stir to combine.
- Coat 2 sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray. Spread chips into an even layer on pan. Top with half of cheese, then with pepper and bean mixture, then top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and melted.
- Meanwhile, blend creamy cilantro lime drizzle ingredients together in a blender until combined and no large pieces of cilantro remain.
- Drizzle sauce over nachos immediately prior to serving. Serve with desired toppings.
- This recipe is gluten-free. Most tortilla chips are made with ground corn although some may have added wheat flour. Be sure to read the label carefully to ascertain that the chips are gluten-free.
- Speaking of chips, it’s really up to you how many chips you want to use. If you use a lot more than 10 oz., you may need to add more shredded cheese.
- The nutrition information does not include extra toppings.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.